How do we define a carer?
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support. Anyone can become a carer; they come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age. Carers are extremely important to the NHS, however, too often they do not receive the recognition and support they need and deserve.
The role of a carer is very diverse and can encompass a multitude of activities including, helping people to the toilet, helping with washing, dressing or move around the home. The carers role can also include shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundering of clothes, assisting with medication, managing money and taking people to attend appointments.
You can find out more about the day to day experience of being a carer in this YouTube video
How are we caring for carers?
Caring for and supporting carers has played a crucial role in improving the experience of the hospital stay for not only the person living with dementia and their carer but all carers across the hospital. As a hospital we have signed up to the Carers Charter and posters highlighting the aims and objectives of the carer charter are displayed across the hospital.
In 2016 our hospital signed up to John’s campaign. John’s campaign added the cement to all the work that we as a hospital have been undertaking around caring for and supporting carers.
Carers charter – Our commitment to carers
Our commitment to supporting and improving the experience of carers has led to the Royal Surrey County Hospital signing up to the acute hospitals carers charter and implementing a variety of carer focused initiatives, which can found below.
The Carer Passport for family members
The Royal Surrey’s Carer Passport for family members was launched in 2013 and was recognised and promoted by Norman Lamb as best practice at the National Carers UK Conference on 2nd May 2013.
At the Royal Surrey, we recognise that when a loved one, who is dependent on the care you provide, is admitted to hospital, it is inevitable that you may worry. You can trust the staff to look after your loved one during their stay, however you may choose to be here in a carer capacity and work alongside our staff to care for your relative.
If you are staying with a relative to provide carer support whilst they are in hospital we can arrange for you to have a carer passport for family members. This will give you additional permission to care for your relative and enable you to access a variety of concessions.
Whilst we recognise and encourage carers to support their family member during their stay in hospital, it is important to highlight that occasionally the ward staff may ask you to leave the bay and we request that you adhere to this. An example of when this might happen is during the morning whilst washes are occurring and this is to maintain the privacy and dignity of all the patients in the bay.
Please see the ward manager if you would like further information about this initiative or request a carer passport for family members.
Carer information boards
Carer information boards can be found across the hospital. They are easily identifiable as they are bright pink in colour and they are situated by the lifts on every level within the hospital.
The carer information boards have a wealth of information on them and contain variety of leaflets signposting people to local carer support agencies including the Alzheimer’s society.
We have two carer advisors working in our hospital offering advice and support to carers.
Please speak to the nurse in charge if you would like a referral to speak / meet with the carer advisor. Alternatively, you can contact Action for carers either by telephone 03030401234, SMS 07714075993 or by email CarerSupport@actionforcarers.org.uk
The carer prescription enables staff to refer carers electronically to a variety of carer support services. The process is very quick and enables staff to get specialist help, advice and support to carers in a timely manner. If you would like further information about the carer prescription or if you would like a referral to an agency for support please speak to a member of the ward staff.
Our Dementia café occurs on the first Wednesday of every month from 3-5pm and is located on Hindhead Ward in the Physio Gym. The café is informal and not only provides carers with advice and support but also signposts people so that they can access on-going support and services in the community. Please join us for a drink and a chat.
Carers bleep system
At the Royal Surrey, we have listened to and consulted with:
- People with learning /multiple disabilities
- People living with dementia
We recognise that attending and waiting in our Outpatient Clinics and our Accident and Emergency Department for even a short length of time, can not only be frustrating and distressing but can make people with learning / multiple disabilities and people living with dementia even more anxious and potentially adversely affect the individual’s experience of attending hospital.
Our Accident and Emergency Department and our Outpatients Department both operate a carer bleep system. The bleep system enables patients to not physically be present / waiting in the department but to go for a walk within the hospital or get a coffee and the department staff will bleep them just prior to their appointment.
Please see a member of staff within the Accident and Emergency Department or Outpatients Department to discuss accessing / using the carer bleep system.
Easy read Friends and Family Questionnaire
We actively encourage and value the feedback that we receive from patients and carers regarding their stay in hospital. The Easy read friends and family questionnaire is available on the wards. Once you have completed the form please place it in the Friends and family box at the ward / department reception desk.
All feedback received is reviewed at ward / department and trust level to share and celebrate good practice but also to consider where changes may be necessary.
What should I do if I have a concern or complaint about the care my relative or friend is receiving?
In the unfortunate event that you have a concern or a complaint about the care that your relative is receiving please contact the senior nurse on the ward.
What is role of the Patient Advice Liaison Service (PALs)
PALS act as a first point of contact for anyone with a health related issue, question or concern.
PALS are open from 0900-1500 Monday—Friday and are located at the main entrance next to reception.
Becoming a carer friendly organisation
A lot of work has also been undertaken across the hospital to enable our hospital to support staff members that have a caring responsibility.
A few of our hospital initiatives:
- All staff members that have a caring responsibility are encouraged to register as a carer, with the occupational health department.
- Several of our hospital policies have been re-written to reflect the importance of supporting staff members who have a caring responsibility.
- HR manages and organizes a regular staff carer forum meeting. This forum provides advice and support to staff who are carers.
Other useful documents
Contact details for carer advice and support – statutary and local organisations
Surrey County Council Contact Centre 03456009009
NHS 111 (Dial 111 for non-urgent out of hours medical advice)
Carer Support Across Surrey – Action for carers Surrey
Action for carers Surrey now provides a surrey based service providing advice, information, advocacy, training and access to other information to support carers in their caring role.
Or by SMS 07714075993